Snow is expected (at press) for the week ahead, and while Greater Vancouver weather forecasts are more like speculations than probabilities, it’s a good idea to be prepared for one issue that snow often causes – power outages. In fact, a power outage in 2021 looks a lot different than it did just five or so years ago. With many households adopting smart-home technology, an increased vulnerability to power outages is an unfortunate side effect of the conveniences IoT provides. Below is a breakdown of what your household can do to help prevent and prepare for a loss of electrical caused by winter weather. Some tasks are tried and true, while others account for more modernized homes. Let’s review.
6 Precautions Modern Households Can Take Against Winter Weather Power Outages
1. Trim Branches to Prevent Breakage Over Power Lines
When ice and snow collects on tree branches that hang over power lines the weight becomes too much for them (branches) to bear and they break. The branches (and debris) then fall on top of power lines, damaging them and leading to a power outage. Prior to snowfall, trim tree branches that hang above power lines around your home. Ask that your neighbors do the same, as many electrical systems are connected via power lines that run from property to property.
2. Have Flashlights and Candles Ready
This age-old precaution is as effective as ever. Check that your flashlights work, stock-up on batteries, and make sure you keep them in a place that can easily be found when the power goes out. It’s also a good idea to keep candles and matches/lighters on hand, but be sure to keep burning candles far away from flammables (curtains, furnishings, linens, etc.) at all times and never go to sleep with one burning. We recommend jarred candles over free-standing ones as they better contain the wick and flame. While flashlights, batteries, and candles are important during a power outage, we also recommend that you top-off your household emergency supply kit with all of these items.
3. Clear Obstacles from Paths and Stairways
Even with flashlights or candles, your home will not be adequately illuminated. When walking to the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or other area of the home an occupant may trip over things in their path and sustain an injury. Prior to the arrival of a forecasted winter storm, walk from room to room and clear away toys, boxes, shoes, and any other items that may be strewn about. Also unplug unnecessary electrical cords (another well-known home protection measure) and tuck them away to further mitigate the risk of trips and falls. Do the same for your home’s exterior paths and stairways too, given that outdoor lighting systems may also go down.
4. Charge All Portables
Your household has smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Keep them charged at all times. Not only do they allow you to monitor weather/news updates and stay in communication with emergency services, friends, and family (assuming cell-towers remain in service), they also provide light for as long as they stay charged.
5. Update All Smart-Home Software
Check manufacturer provided manuals (physical or online) to make sure that your smart-home devices and appliances are set to automatically update when new updates are available. If they haven’t been updated until this point, perform a manual update immediately to ensure that you have the latest version of software installed. These updates may include failsafe upgrades and other important updates to protect your home in the event of a power outage or other compromise.
6. Backup Data
This may be a common business tip but it also applies to modern households, especially if you have a home office which is a likelihood given the COVID-19 lockdowns from 2020. Whether you need to protect your business documents or want to save family photos, videos, and other digital personal effects, a backup is the key to accessing it all during (when charged) and after a power outage. Make sure that your cloud storage is upgraded with the appropriate storage capacity prior to performing your backups or they may fail.
We’d like to conclude with a reminder that in addition to power outages, winter weather can cause all sorts of damage to your home. Contact Park Insurance today to receive an assessment of your current homeowners policy for complete peace of mind.